Ever since the exotic and ingenious Shahrazad related her 1001 tales to King Shahryar, in an effort to stay her execution, the world has been captivated by the saga of Aladdin and his magic lamp.
Atlanta based filmmaker Dan Heisel offers a contemporary look at the proverbial genie in the bottle, when petty criminal Caroline (Molly Hainline) discovers an enchanted puzzle box during a botched robbery. The Djinn (Michael Liu) inside informs Caroline that simply concentrating on her dark desires can fulfill all of her wishes. Caroline soon discovers her newfound power offers the opportunity to exact her bloody vengeance on cheating boyfriends and vicious loan sharks before the tragic realization of her destiny is revealed.
Heisel’s film illustrates the universal truth that nothing comes for free and that everyone must pay a price. Where the film eclipses the competition is in its execution. The cinematography and shot composition are exceptional for DV production with a virtually non-existent budget. It is obvious that Heisel knows where to place the camera and the robbery sequence shows some solid editing prowess as well. But it is the closing scenes that illustrate the kind of innovation that most filmmakers with spectacularly larger budgets often fail to accomplish. The claustrophobic evocation of dread coupled with the raw emotion exuded by actress Molly Hainline elevates the film from an interesting and well-shot short, to an impressive prospect for Heisel’s future filmmaking efforts.
With its truncated running time, the film rarely suffers from the performance pitfalls that hamper most low /no budget productions. In fact the film’s only fault may be the Djinn voice over’s slightly distracting post-production vocal effects. However, even with that minor issue, the film hardly acquiesces, and the tight scripting and smart characterizations lead the viewer on an intriguing journey into an unembroidered heart of darkness.
The Special Edition DVD of the film offers a humorous, if not entirely insightful, audio commentary from Director Heisel, Special Effects coordinators and Producers Andrew Shearer and Kitty Juggler as well as Actor Michael Liu. In addition, the DVD supplies some fly-on-the-wall behind the scenes footage that provides an interesting look at how the final scenes were constructed. Also included are two additional short films from Heisel; Why Did I Take a Night Class and Release, both of which provide an entertaining look at a bright upcoming director. Boxed In is available from ShyByDay Productions in a special 2-disc edition and can be ordered directly from www.shybyday.com.